Warner Music has agreed to buy David Guetta’s recorded music catalogue and struck a fresh record deal with the musician in a deal worth more than $100m, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest example of the booming market for music rights as the sector returns to growth.
The 53-year-old French DJ and producer behind hits such as “Titanium” and “Play Hard” is one of the younger musicians to cash in on soaring demand for music rights from private equity groups, record labels and speciality funds such as Hipgnosis.
Warner will acquire Guetta’s two decade-long back catalogue of recorded music and the deal also includes an agreement for future recordings. The companies did not disclose terms, but the price was above $100m, according to a person familiar with the matter.
“A lot of people approached us to express interest in David’s catalogue,” said Jean-Charles Carre, Guetta’s manager. Guetta said the deal would help with “working my extensive catalogue and continuing to build my career”.
Musicians spanning Bob Dylan, Blondie and Stevie Nicks have become willing sellers of their songwriting catalogues due to the rise in valuations and the lack of touring income during the pandemic. The dealmaking frenzy has effectively doubled the value of songwriting copyrights over the past five years.
But Guetta, who has sold some 50m albums during his career, is unique in selling his own recordings, which are managed separately from a song’s underlying composition. Most artists do not own their recorded music, which they typically cede to record labels.
In recent years artists have railed against this system, notably Taylor Swift after her recordings were sold to financial buyers. Swift has begun releasing new versions of her older albums in a bid to devalue her back catalogue and scuttle the deal.
Thanks to the rise of streaming, revenue in the music sector has grown for six consecutive years, including a 7.4 per cent rise last year to $21.6bn, according to the industry group IFPI. Paid-for streaming has increased the value of music rights and given older songs a new lease on life.
Warner Music, the third largest label, which is behind artists including Lizzo and Ed Sheeran, reported net income of $117m on $1.3bn in revenue in the quarter to the end of March. The group went public last year, reaping $1.9bn for owner Leonard Blavatnik. The company’s shares have fallen 7 per cent this year, valuing it at $17.6bn.